Archive for September, 2009

The School for Dangerous Girls by Eliot Schrefer

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

Age Level:  14 and up

# of Pages:  341

RAC:  Yes

Angela Cardenas is sent to the Hidden Oak School for Girls for a reason she does not readily explain.  Her family does not even take her to the school.  Instead, she has to take a bus and then walk up a big hill to get there.  When she arrives she is placed in a temporary facility with other new girls who begin to disappear one by one.  When she is finally taken to live with the general population of girls she notices that she is the last one to arrive, even though several girls remained in the temporary facility when she left.  She begins to grow suspicious when she asks about them and is severely punished.  Despite several warnings against finding these girls, Angela decides she has to know where they are and if they are okay.  Are they in danger?  And if so, can she save them without meeting a similar fate?

This book follows Angela as she tries to come to terms with the reason why she has been sent to this school, but at the same time tries to find out why there are so many secrets about the school.  Is the school really looking out for her best interest or are they merely hiding some illegal actions and punishments that are currently practiced at the school?  The story drags a bit in places, but there is a surprise in the plot when Angela slowly discovers what they do to the bad girls.  Readers who like gritty books and survival stories will enjoy this.

Twice Upon a Marigold by Jean Ferris

Genre:  Fantasy

Age Level:  12 and up

# of Pages:  297

RAC:  Yes

Marigold and Christian are living happily ever after in this sequel to Once Upon a Marigold until one day when they have their first fight.  Little do they know that it is foreshadowing trouble ahead as Marigold’s mother, whom they thought was dead, is actually regaining her memory in a town far away.  She has had amnesia for a year since her accidental fall into the river, but now she remembers who she is and is determined to reclaim her throne.  King Swithbert has been enjoying having his kingdom back under his own control and has no plans to relinquish that control, unless it is to Marigold and Christian.  When Olympia returns and sees what has happened to her kingdom she immediately makes plans to change it back to when everyone was unhappy and afraid of her.  She is only too happy to get rid of anyone who stands in her way, even her own husband and daughter.

For fans of the first book, this is a must read.  The returning characters are fun and great new ones are introduced.  The story itself moves very quickly too as the different characters make their plans for gaining control of the kingdom.  It’s not quite as captivating as the first one, but a fun read nonetheless.  Fantasy and fairy tale lovers will enjoy it.

Suck it up by Brian Meehl

Genre:  Fantasy

Age Level:  13 and up

# of Pages:  318

RAC Book:  Yes

Morning McCobb is a sixteen-year-old boy who was accidentally turned into a vampire.  He has never tasted human blood, however, and prefers a protein substitute called Blood Lite.  After he completes his training, he is approached by the leader of the Vampire League and asks him to become the first vampire to “come out” to the world.  If Morning is met with acceptance and understanding then the League hopes to have a “coming out day” in the future where all vampires can live peacefully with humans.  The only problem is that there are a few vampires who refuse to join the league called Loners.  These Loners still prey on humans.  One loner in particular does not like the idea of vampires coming out into society and vows to destroy Morning before that can become a reality.

This story is a fun, lighthearted vampire story that takes a different approach from many other vampire stories.  Morning is a nerdy kid who does not want to have to relive high school over and over simply because he will always look sixteen.  He sees this as an opportunity to do something with his life and make a difference, which would never happen if he had to hide his true identity.  He quickly learns that it is not easy to be in the spotlight and all vampires can be dangerous at one time or another, even the ones who have never been a threat to humans before.  For vampire lovers, this is a fun story that does not have some of the violence and darkness that some other vampire stories have.

Defying the Diva by D. Anne Love

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

Age Level:  14 and up

# of Pages:  257

RAC:  Yes

Haley Patterson was a perfectly happy freshman with two best friends and a place writing for the school newspaper.  After she writes something for the paper that the most popular girl in school, Camilla Quinn, takes offense to Haley’s life changes dramatically for the worse.  Camilla spreads vicious rumors about Haley and forbids anyone to talk to her.  Everyone is terrified of Camilla turning on them and suddenly Haley finds herself alone and tortured by everyone all day long.  This bullying takes its toll and by summer vacation she wants to hide out.  When her parents send her to stay with her aunt for the summer, her aunt insists she get a job at a nearby county club.  Haley is unsure of how to make friends anymore and how to trust people in general, but she begins to realize that some of the people she has met over the summer are truly good people who want to get to know her.  Can she let her guard down and become friends with them?  Can she tell her parents or aunt why she had such a difficult spring?  Can she ever return in the fall to face Camilla?

This story discusses bullying from a girl’s perspective.  Nothing physical is ever done to harm Haley, but the mental abuse is just as bad as anything else she could imagine.  The power of peer pressure and the need to fit in and feel accepted is very real and present in every high school.  Haley’s story of despair to hope and eventually revenge is a good story to give those suffering from this type of bullying hope.  However, in many instances students do not have the support system Haley finds.  It’s important for all students to be aware of this type of bullying and to be willing to stand up for those around them that are the victims of it.

Out of Reach by V.M. Jones

Genre:  Sports/Realistic Fiction

Age Level:  14 and up

# of Pages:  264

RAC: Yes

Pip McLeod hates it when his dad comes to his soccer games because he yells the entire time.  He yells from the sidelines about every call, every play, and every score.  When a talent scout for a more competitive league comes to the game Pip tries hard to do his best and has a good game, but when the scout does not choose to talk to him he has to hear about all of his mistakes all the way home.  Pip has had it and no longer even likes to play.  His older brother, Nick, is a great player and chosen for the elite team, which doesn’t help Pip’s feelings of failure.  One day on his way home he sees that the new sports complex has a door propped open and he finds himself wandering in.  He notices a big room with walls for indoor climbing and feels drawn to it.  After trying a little climbing on his own, he realizes that this is something he loves to do.  The problem is how to tell his parents he wants to do this and how to pay for lessons when they are on a very tight budget.  In the end, Pip (who becomes Phil around the other climbers) must do what he needs to do in order to challenge himself and put himself into a more positive environment than he is used to, which means entering a very challenging competition to prove he has what it takes to be a superior climber.

For anyone who likes sports or climbing stories this is a good story.  There are not that many books about climbing, especially indoor climbing, which makes this story interesting.  Pip’s struggles with his family, friends, and even himself are all somewhat relieved once he starts climbing.  Communication is a big issue in this story as Pip and his father fail to communicate their true feelings to each other and instead let the tension and anger build and fester. Many readers will be able to identify with Pip in some way.

The Temptress Four by Gaby Triana

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

Age Level:  14 and up

# of Pages:  247

RAC Book:  Yes

Fiona, Killian, Alma, and Yoli are four best friends who are planning to take a cruise together after their high school graduation.   The night before graduation a fortune teller at a carnival predicts that one of them will not come home from the cruise and that the cruise itself will be full of strife.  Even though none of them want to admit it, this prediction bothers all of them.  As they  leave for their journey, Fiona has a fight with her boyfriend about a dress she wants to pack.  His stubbornness and determination to tell her what to do makes her wonder if he really is the right guy for her, especially when she meets another guy on the cruise.  Meanwhile, the girls do find themselves fighting more than usual and Killian and Yoli pull ridiculous stunts to get themselves noticed by a wild boy.  Will one of them get in over their heads?  Will they find a dangerous situation they can’t handle?  Or, is the fortune teller merely a fake and they have nothing to fear on this trip of a lifetime?

This story follows four friends as they celebrate graduation for a week on a cruise and at the same time decide if the decisions they have made are the right decisions for them.  Fiona, for example, is unsure if the life she has perfectly mapped out is actually what she wants right now.  Killian doesn’t even know what she wants, but she knows what she doesn’t want to do with her life.  Through the course of this trip, the four will begin to separate as well as come together as they realize their time as a foursome is drawing to a close.  The ending is interesting and will not disappoint readers, but it is foreshadowed throughout the story so it is not a real surprise.  Readers who like books about friendship will enjoy this.

Don’t Judge a Girl By Her Cover by Ally Carter

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

Age Level:  14 and up

# of Pages:  263

RAC Book:  Yes

In this third installment of the Gallagher Girls series, Cammie Morgan is back with her friends and about to start junior year in the private spy school, Gallagher Academy.  Before going back to school, Cammie decides to visit her friend, Macey, on the campaign trail with her father who is running for Vice President of the United States.  When they are unexpectedly attacked by skilled kidnappers, Cammie realizes how much danger her friend is in and worries about keeping her safe.  Abigail Cameron, Cammie’s aunt, is brought to the Gallagher school in order to protect Macey and keep anyone out who might blow the academy’s cover of being a snooty prep school for wealthy girls.  Meanwhile, Cammie can’t help but think about Zach, who left her at the end of the last book to go back to his spy school, Blackthorne.  She  feels like he is always on her mind for no apparent reason.  Is she paranoid or a very perceptive spy?  Can the Gallagher Girls manage to keep Macey safe during this crazy and very public election time?

This series is a lot of fun and many students eagerly awaited this third installment.  They were not disappointed in the quality of the story.  The election added an interesting new spin on the girls’ spy training because they were actually in real danger many times during the course of events and had to act as real spies would act in order to create new and adventurous plans to protect themselves.  The characters are just as interesting as ever and the story kept a brisk pace.  The only complaint I heard was that it went by too quickly.   All in all, a fun ride.